Posts Tagged ‘polenta’

There’s something consistently comforting about homemade meatballs and tomato sauce for Sunday supper.  Maybe it’s the act of mixing and rolling the meat with your bare hands; an organic and ritualistic labor of love. Or, perhaps it’s just the sweet warm aroma of onion, garlic, fresh basil and tomatoes wafting off the stove.  Whatever it is, we couldn’t get enough of it this week when we tried Lidia Bastianich’s “polpette” with our spicy tomato-basil sauce. Instead of serving the dish over spaghetti, we baked a pan of polenta and then fried the squares in olive oil.  Light crunch on the outside with a soft, warm, heartiness on the inside — perfect with a dollop of tangy sauce.


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I’ve gone fruity in the kitchen lately, making a number of fruit-inspired desserts. This one is pineapple-upside-down meets cornbread. Juicy navel orange slices take the place of pineapple and crushed almonds replace kernels of corn in the batter.  It’s dense, crumbly texture is incredible.  The citrusy marmelade glaze glistens on top and provides the perfect balance of sweet to offset the tart slices of rind and orange zest.


I three-quartered this recipe from Gourmet Magazine (February 2009) — first time I’ve ever used a calculator in the kitchen, btw! — and only baked it for 50 minutes, instead of the hour to hour and a quarter recommended. Such a tasty and unique dessert that it didn’t last long in my kitchen!


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Quick-cooking polenta is the key to these perfectly crispy pan-fried organic chicken breasts. The thin layer of ground cornmeal and flour, clinging to the egg-washed chicken, turns golden brown in just 5-6 minutes over medium high heat.

Deglaze the pan with a little olive oil, tomato paste, balsamic and capers to create a tangy sauce that complements the salty, crunchy chicken.  To round out the meal, try some pan-roasted brussel sprouts and carrots, tossed in a little olive oil and cider vinegar and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper.


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On the western edge of the West Village, on the corner of Washington and 12th Streets, Barbuto is a relaxing haven for good food, drinks and people-watching through its glass-paned garage doors that open the restaurant to the Hudson breeze in warmer weather.  The open kitchen with wood oven overlooks a candle lit, concrete-floored dining room that used to be a busy auto repair shop.

Frank Bruni’s review in the New York Times inspired a first visit to Barbuto for the chicken. This was my return trip – with high praise, again, for the juicy, tender chicken with salsa verde.  The sauce is chock full of fresh parsley, garlic, lemon and basil; the skin is salty and crispy.

The mark of a good restaurant is often in its sides, and Barbuto scored well on this count with it’s roasted, creamy brussel sprouts, beets and black olive salad, and fried polenta with parmesan and herbs. The Italian-inspired menu also includes a number of homemade pastas (wonderful spaghetti carbonara) and pan-roasted fish.


One final note… The meaning of “barbuto”? Apparently it’s “bearded” in Italian!  Chef Jonathan Waxman dons a beard himself… but if the restaurant’s logo is any indication, looks like a special furry dog may have inspired the name.

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